Painter-decorator Malissa Desmazieres mixes cultures at home and in her style, Style News & Top Stories
This article first appeared in Harper’s Bazaar Singapore, the fashion magazine for the best of style, beauty, design, travel and the arts. Go to harpersbazaar.com.sg and follow @harpersbazaarsg on Instagram; harpersbazaarsingapore on Facebook. The July 2021 issue is now on newsstands.
SINGAPORE – With her background in art history and her experience as an assistant in the Southeast Asian Paintings Department at Sotheby’s Singapore, it is no wonder that Ms. Malissa Desmazieres has such a refined appreciation for history and past lives of spaces and objects.
It shows in her home – a two-story black-and-white colonial semi-detached house nestled in leafy Wessex Estate – and the treasure trove of artifacts that fill it.
“I’ve always loved heritage houses. I think they are an integral part of Singapore’s landscape and history. I love living in the midst of so much nature,” says the 39-year-old freelance painter and decorator.
“When I have friends at home, they like to linger because they say they feel like they are on vacation somewhere else. The house includes all the different elements of my cultures – of my French heritage. Laotian to my Thai connection (she grew up in Thailand). I call it a Neo-Indochinese style, a mix of classic Indo-Chinese elements and a bit of French and European flair. “
This has resulted in a house that is at the same time rich, eclectic and warm. Regardless of the rules of decoration, regions, cultures, eras and movements collide freely, united by the artist’s love for color, print, texture and patina.
“I’m a maximalist,” she says. “I could never have had a Zen and minimalist home. I was very influenced by my mother as a collector. She decorated with a lot of rattan, dark woods, beautiful fabrics in jewel tones. reflects a lot in my house.
“I love the animal print. I find it always adds an element of the exotic and it’s so chic. More than anything, I’m interested in different cultures. I think a Chinese chair is as beautiful as it is. ‘a Burmese lacquer or Portuguese marble table from The turn of the century. “
His dual heritage and his love of different cultures are woven and integrated into every surface, nook and cranny of his home.
The Portuguese marble table – carved with dolphins that resemble Chinese dragons – was purchased while on vacation in Lisbon, and now anchors the dining area to the cool and spacious outdoor patio.
Inside, two gold leaf-lacquered Thai side tables are paired with Italian tole lamps from the 1960s – both flanking a Burmese Art Deco sofa that was refreshed with upholstery by Jim Thompson, a pillar of Thai interior design.
A Louis XVI chair that belonged to Mme Desmazières’ great-grandparents has been re-upholstered in Pierre Frey textile. Her twin is in her upstairs bedroom.
“It’s like having a part of my French family here in Asia,” she says.
A 20th-century Japanese screen takes center stage in the indoor lounge, its delicate decoration nodding to the imposing antique taiko drum nearby.
“I always think about how one thing would work with another. It doesn’t have to be obvious, but there has to be a feeling of harmony when you collect so many objects, ”says Desmazières.
Price is not a qualifier when it comes to his approach to stylistic harmony. “I give the same aesthetic value to an object that has not been expensive as to the one who made it,” she says. “I like it when something isn’t too serious, even if it’s precious.”
When it comes to what she wears, she’s equally unpretentious, freely mixing costume jewelry with fine jewelry and heirloom treasures.
“I love gold costume jewelry, especially when it’s a little unexpected,” she says. “I think it’s fun. It shows a lot of personality. It’s chic when it feels like you haven’t tried too hard. I also like vintage handbags. I like it when things are done. have a certain age – I think that adds character. And it’s a lot more stylish to wear something that has a story. “
Some stories are closer to the heart than others. Some of his most beloved pieces carry love stories with them.
The first item is a ring from his mother, which has an ancient coin depicting the mythical griffin in its center. “Our family crest is a griffin, so it’s a connection to my mother’s family,” she says. “As the granddaughter of the last reigning prince in southern Laos, I think it’s nice to have something that represents the strength of our family.”
The second is a vintage Bvlgari bracelet from the early 1980s – a gift from her 53-year-old German husband, Mr. Michael Voigtmann, co-founder of Singapore Aquaculture Technologies, for their 10th wedding anniversary. They have a seven year old son.
Much like the way she dresses her home, Desmazieres fills her wardrobe with color and character – with a clear preference for the most exuberant French fashion.
“I love vintage Kenzo, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Lacroix. The prints and colors were amazing back then and the silhouettes timeless,” she says effusively. “I really like this period of French design, so I try to find pieces from then and combine them with something more contemporary.”
When it comes to new loves, Loewe tops the list for “the way he reinterprets heritage and encourages craftsmanship”.
As she does with her wardrobe and interiors, Ms. Desmazieres takes an eclectic and free approach to what is happening on her walls.
Her art collection includes pieces she has purchased and inherited over the years – classic portraits and traditional paintings mingle with contemporary still lifes, expressive nudes and abstract landscapes.
In recent years, she has become an admirer and art collector to become a practitioner as well. Still life with tropical flavors has become his calling card.
“There is a timelessness to still life painting,” she says. “It also relates to my house because I collect a lot of objects and create a lot of vignettes. When things are put together thoughtfully, it all tells a story.”
When it comes to a good story, it never gets enough. “In Southeast Asia there are so many amazing stories with all the history, heritage, diverse cultures, exquisite craftsmanship that we have here. Collecting these items is, in a way, preserve all these traditions. “